Jones reveals what kept him going during Dees’ darkest hours
Melbourne milestone man Nathan Jones admits the dream of retiring as a premiership player has sustained him through the club's darkest hours.
Jones will hit the magical 300-game milestone against Richmond on Saturday night after long conversations with coach Simon Goodwin over the off-season eventually saw him commit to a 16th AFL season.
Jones overcame achilles soreness during the COVID lockdown and then tore his quad once more in a disastrous 2020 campaign but still the fire burned.
Now he will celebrate the milestone in front of family and friends including children Bobbi and Remy, and wife Jerri, who is 16 weeks pregnant with twins.
She recently came forward about her battle with a trio of miscarriages, so for Jones this is a period full of emotion.
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But while the 300-game milestone is a highlight he said on Monday he only played on to help team success, not break the Melbourne games record held by Neitz (306 games).
"When I wanted to play on last year I had a good chat to Goody and it wasn't about reaching this milestone," he said.
"It was about playing in a successful team and contributing on and off-field to getting the group into a position where it is now," he said.
"In the time I have been here, I haven't even won three in a row and we have won five in a row so I am looking forward to Saturday night.
"I have been dreaming of that (fairytale premiership) my whole career, really.
"People say why do you stick around through difficult times, that dream was the thing that kept me alive, it kept driving me towards wanting to stick around.
"We got a taste of it back in 2018 (with a preliminary final) and I have been pretty bullish.
"I felt like if we got a few things right over summer, and I think we put the work in, and here we are.
"There is still a long way to go, but there are a lot of good vibes going on and we want to keep grabbing hold of it."
Jones has had eight AFL coaches including three interim coaches after mid-season sackings and almost as many chief executives in those turbulent years.
He is still yet to hit 100 victories, with 98 wins, three draws and 198 losses across those seasons.
"I never really considered leaving. But those years sucked," he said.
"When you get drafted, I was lucky to play finals in my first year and I was thinking, 'How good is this', and we finished second bottom the next year and won a handful of wooden spoons after that.
"I have got some good memories and good times and good friendships, but as far as footy every time you get knocked down how often can you get knocked back up.
"The dream was always, 'can you imagine what it would be like if we turned it around, can you imagine the Melbourne fans, can you imagine it'?"
Originally published as Jones reveals what kept him going during Dees' darkest hours